Question How do I install Windows XP to an external HDD?

suryalord

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Dec 20, 2017
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Hello everyone!
I have a external hard drive that is currently empty. The external hard drive is 150 gb and should be able to run Windows XP as it used to when it worked internally before I extracted it and put an enclosure on it.
I would like to know how I would go on installing Windows XP to it. I already have a Windows XP Iso and product key.
My current idea is that I can install the external HDD back into my pc as internal, and then use a USB with the ISO on to install to it.
My problem is - I do not know whether or not that would work.
If so, can you tell me how to go around this
Thanks
--Suryanta
 

suryalord

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Dec 20, 2017
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Mostly, you don't.
Windows has a real problem with installing to an external drive.

During the install, that external thing wouldn't even be seen as an install location.

  1. Why XP?
  2. Why the external?
Alright.
  1. Windows XP is just an OS that I have as an ISO. I presume I am OK with other Windows OS, I thought XP would be the easiest.
  2. In my main PC both internal HDD spots have been took up, and therefore I'll need to put an OS on an external HDD.
To be honest - it's just a gimmick, I wanted to see how my old games that I used to play 10 - 12 yrs ago used to be like.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Windows, of any version, has an issue with trying to install to an external drive.

You could use a VM software like VirtualBox, and install the XP in that. That VM location could be on the external drive, or anywhere.
 

suryalord

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Dec 20, 2017
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Windows, of any version, has an issue with trying to install to an external drive.

You could use a VM software like VirtualBox, and install the XP in that. That VM location could be on the external drive, or anywhere.
Thing is - games don't run as well on VB as they would do on a HDD.
I suppose I could just install Windows XP next time I do a fresh boot of Windows.
 

Kamal007v

Reputable
Nov 15, 2014
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Two months back i had to install OS to an external device and i was able to do it using wintousb. However the external HDD needs to be formatted and partitioned. The first partition must be Fat32 100MB or larger. Rest NTFS partitions size is your wish. You can mount the iso in wintousb and write it to the ex HDD then boot from that drive using bios and continue the traditional os installation.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Thing is - games don't run as well on VB as they would do on a HDD.
I suppose I could just install Windows XP next time I do a fresh boot of Windows.
True, games don't play as well through a VM.
However, we're talking about 15 year old games. Is there really going to be an issue?

The VM option is free to try, and easy. All it takes is a little bit of time.
 
May 6, 2019
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Hello everyone!
I have a external hard drive that is currently empty. The external hard drive is 150 gb and should be able to run Windows XP as it used to when it worked internally before I extracted it and put an enclosure on it.
I would like to know how I would go on installing Windows XP to it. I already have a Windows XP Iso and product key.
My current idea is that I can install the external HDD back into my pc as internal, and then use a USB with the ISO on to install to it.
My problem is - I do not know whether or not that would work.
If so, can you tell me how to go around this
Thanks
--Suryanta
If you have XP running elsewhere, you can image that partition and write the image to the external - use driveimage XML free version. Partition on the exteral must not be smaller than the other partition
 
I'm pretty sure you can't. If I remember right, the ability to boot Windows off anything other than the first hard drive wasn't added added until Vista. Previous versions of Windows could only boot off the first drive (the one with boot priority in the BIOS). I vaguely recall adding a second (faster) drive to a Dell desktop expecting to be able to install onto the new drive. Then finding out Dell left out the drive boot priority option in that particular BIOS. So I had to open up the case again and swap the SATA cables before I could get XP to install onto the new drive.

Edit: The reason Microsoft limited Windows this way is to avoid the problem we sometimes see here now. Where people buy a HDD system, add a SSD, install Windows onto the SSD. Then they remove the HDD, and find out their system can't boot anymore. What's going on is the HDD was actually the boot drive, and it contained a boostrap telling the computer that Windows was installed on the SSD on partition 0. When you remove the HDD, the computer tries to boot off the SSD, except it doesn't have a boot sector so you get a "no boot device found" error. By limiting Windows to booting from (and thus installing to) only the first drive, it guaranteed Windows would always be bootable no matter how you rearranged your other drives.

Edit 2: Re-reading that, I suppose it might be possible if your BIOS supports selecting a USB drive as the boot drive. But XP didn't ship with native USB support. That wasn't added until Service Pack 2. So you'd have to create a custom XP install CD with SP2 or later slipstreamed in.
 
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USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
If you have XP running elsewhere, you can image that partition and write the image to the external - use driveimage XML free version. Partition on the exteral must not be smaller than the other partition
Pretty sure that's not going to work.

While there are some arcane methods to get Windows running on an external drive, a simple copy of the partition is not it.
 
May 6, 2019
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XP was not designed to run on external media, no matter how you manage to get it installed. It might boot but it will never run reliably, or anywhere near fast enough to be usable.
He said he would make the HD internal once it had XP.
I've done this many times when used as a backup method.
His problem would be if the image came from a different computer requiring different drivers.
Still can work though, just have to replace those drivers
 
May 6, 2019
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The title question:
"How do I install Windows XP to an external HDD?"

That would imply installing it and running it on that external drive.

Answer:
You don't.
Implications are assumptions - didn't imply that to me.

He elaborates in his opening statement that he would install that external HD internally.

However, he says that he has an XP ISO file so his simplest option is to write the ISO to DVD, install the blank HD internally and install XP in the usual manner.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Adding:
"and therefore I'll need to put an OS on an external HDD. "

Doesn't get much clearer than that.

'install to'
'put an OS on'


And then the waters are muddied:
"My current idea is that I can install the external HDD back into my pc as internal, and then use a USB with the ISO on to install to it. "

Install from an external is one thing.
Install to an external is something quite different.


@suryalord - clarification please?
Where will this supposed drive with an XP OS end up? Internal or external?
 
May 6, 2019
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We can all interpret statements differently if there is any ambiguity,
He probably should have said ' onto an external HDD'
 

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